Level 1: Game Mechanics



Halo, just like every other first person shooter (FPS), is primarily about shooting your weapons to kill enemy players and AI – but that is where the similarities end. It is important to understand what makes Halo, primarily Halo 5: Guardians, different from other FPS’s as these differences change the way you play the game.

This lesson plan has been designed for players who are new to the Halo universe, or new to FPS’s as a whole. While advanced players may find a few tidbits of new information, the goal is to create a foundation of accurate information on which to build.

The purpose of Lesson Plan 1 is to familiarize you all with the basics surrounding Halo gameplay, mechanics, and more. At the end of this lesson you should have a firm grasp on Halo in general, controlling your Spartan, combat, maps, and power ups/weapons.

Playing Halo

To get you familiar with Halo, we start off with the basics – player movement. It is important to understand that movement may cover the actual movement of your Spartan versus movement around the map. The latter will be covered in a subsequent section with this area focusing mainly on how you control your Spartan to make him/her move.

Note: This lesson was written using the default Halo 5: Guardians control scheme, but tries to call out buttons by function rather than name. Example: “The jump button (A)”.


The two primary concepts in movement are walking and turning (or looking).  If you have played another console game, these controls should be very similar. The left joystick is used for walking and movement throughout the environment while the right joystick is used to control which direction you are looking, which can be used to change the direction of your movement.

Halo 5: Guardians brings with it some advanced movement techniques that change up the pace of game compared to previous Halos including: sprint, clambering, and thrust.

  • Sprint – After being introduced in Halo: Reach and brought back for Halo 4, sprint is back in full force.  Sprinting (left joystick click) is infinite and allows you to move across even the large maps with ease. This unlimited sprint is balanced by not allowing shields to recharge while sprinting. While sprinting can assist tremendously in map movement, it is important to know when and when not to sprint which will be covered in the combat and map movement sections.
  • Clambering – Clambering is the act of pulling yourself up onto a ledge you could not reach with a normal jump. Clambering is controlled by your jump button (A) – simply press jump again when you are near a reachable ledge and your Spartan will do the rest. Clambering can also be combined with crouching to reach even higher places. Clambering allows you to traverse the map in completely new ways and provides for complex combat tactics. Clambering and its advanced uses will be covered in later on in the Spartan Movement section.
  • Thrust – Every Spartan now has the ability to thrust in any direction, in air or on ground, at any time. This movement is mapped by default to the B button and while it is primarily used during combat, thrusting also allows you to reach your destination quicker and is primarily about mobility.
  • Controls – Halo 5: Guardians provides a slew of different button and thumbstick layouts to cater to personal preference and genetic differences (such as handedness). While many people use the default Halo controls, it is a good idea to at least look into the available options to see if there is something better suited to you. If you are unsure we recommend playing for a few hours and making mental notes about which control issues you have, such as it being hard to jump while aiming. The new Xbox Accessories app allows you to custom map buttons, allowing you to create a custom control scheme if none of the 343i provided schemes work for you.

The Xbox One Elite controller also provides paddles on the back of the controller that can be pushed by fingers normally unused. A full in depth article on the Elite controller and it’s customization options will be available soon.

General Gameplay

Although you can be a highly skilled player in Halo, that’s only half of what it takes to be the best or even a decent player at this game. Most of Halo 5: Guardians gameplay revolve strongly around map control (including positioning and power weapons), lines of sight, and setting yourself and your team up for the win.

Game types

At the end of the day every game type in Halo 5: Guardians revolves around killing, but that is not always what will let you the win. Below is breakdown of the current game types available and what you should expect when you hop into them.

  • Team Arena – This is the premiere playlist designed to bring the competitiveness out of Halo 5. This playlist is filled with game types such as strongholds, CTF, Team Slayer, and a new addition to Halo 5 in the most recent patch, Breakout Arena
  • Slayer/FFA – FFA pits 6 players against each other in an all out fight for the top position. First to 25 kills wins the match. When playing an FFA, try and interrupt other fights to give yourself the best chance at multi kills and try to avoid putting shots on players across map unless their shields are broken. For more information on what broken shields means please see the combat section.
  • Team Slayer – Slayer is a 4v4 game type designed specifically for killing the enemy team. Score to win is 50 kills with a time limit of 15 minutes* Starting weapons are the Assault Rifle and Magnum.
  • Strongholds – Type in which 2 teams of 4 fight for control of 3 territories located throughout the map. ONLY way to score, is to have control of two territories at one time.
  • CTF  – Capture the Flag designed to put a teams teamwork to the test. With a flag at each base, you and your team are tasked to capture the enemy flag while defending your own. Score to win is 3 flag captures. The only way to successfully capture a flag, is to make sure your flag is at home base when you are capturing the enemy flag
  • Breakout (Arena) – Breakout is an elimination 4v4 based game type. First team to win 5 rounds, wins the match. You spawn with the SMG as your primary and the Magnum is your secondary, you also have no shield making yourself more capable of an easy death. Every match in Breakout either has two ways to win. 1. Kill the enemy team (once you die, you can’t respawn) 2. Capture the flag (you have to take it to their base)
  • Warzone – 12 on 12, all out warfare. This game type works as a modified strongholds. Key differences though. Score to win is 1000, side objectives appear and when you eliminate the objectives your team gets the points bringing you closer to victory, the cards you get from the req packs containing weapons, vehicles, and other miscellaneous items you can use ONLY in war zone.
  • Warzone Assault – Warzone assault works as an attack/defend game type. One team gets the short end of the stick and has to defend against the enemy as they bring countless waves of players trying to capture your base. Once they capture the base, the location moves to another place on the map.

How it differs from other FPS

While Halo and other First Person Shooters share a lot of similarities, one of the major differences between them is the Time to Kill (TTK). The TTK in Halo 5: Guardians has been slightly shortened compared to previous Halo games, but it is still an eternity when compared to games like Call of Duty. This long TTK means that the player who gets the first shot is not necessarily the player who will win the fight which inherently increases the skill gap in the game. A long TTK gives you time to think, react, and make choices all of which will affect the outcome of a particular fight or entire match – meaning the game is not only about having a good shot, but a good brain.

  • Spawns – Spawning is the act of coming back to life in a multiplayer game after you have been killed. Some game types such as Breakout do not have respawns – where instead you are given one life per round. The game types that do have respawns will spawn players on a time based interval with suicides and team killing increasing that interval. Spawn points on a map are setup to allow players to spawn usually away from enemies, giving you a second to regroup. Players can control these spawn points by looking at them or engaging in combat in that area to force an enemy player to spawn in a different location. Careful manipulation of spawn points can give your team a tremendous advantage in gaining or keeping map control. TIP: If you want to know where the enemies are going to spawn, take a look around the map and find your teammates’ icons – where ever they are not is where the enemy will spawn.
  • Post Game Carnage Stats – Post game carnage stats allow players to reflect on the last match played. In the post game stats you will find all of the common items such as kills, deaths, and assists in addition to new items such as perfect kills, power weapon kills, and damage dealt. Careful analysis of these post game stats can give you insight into your gameplay strengths and weaknesses and should be reviewed after each game you play. Kills Deaths Assists (KDA) is the new standard for determining your performance and is calculated using the following: (K+A/3)/D . Below are some key tips to analyzing these stats:
    • Damage Dealt is important but not king. If you have a game where you did poorly in terms of KDA, take a look at your damage dealt. A high damage output paired with a bad KDA signifies that you were putting shots on enemies but those kills were not getting finished (since you did not receive a kil or assist). If you were playing a team-based game type, try staying closer to teammates or following them throughout the map. If you were playing an FFA, focus more on only shooting when you are confident you will receive the kill.
    • Assists are a great way of understanding how selfish a player is. While a low amount of assists after a game does not confirm that a player was being selfish, there is usually a strong correlation. Teams with great teamwork will often have double digit assists for every player and with that, the W.
  • REQ Points + Packs – REQ stands for requisition. REQ Points are the currency built into Halo 5: Guardians that allow you to buy REQ Packs which give you REQ Cards. After each Arena and Warzone match you finish, you will receive a specific amount of REQ Points that you can use to purchase REQ Packs. These packs are tiered collections of random REQ Cards. REQ Cards either unlock single-use based weapons and vehicles or permanent upgrades such as weapon skins and armors. The packs themselves are broken into three tiers: bronze, silver, and gold. The bronze pack is the cheapest and gives you a few common items. The silver pack is guaranteed to give you 2 permanent unlocks (if available) in addition to a handful of other rares and good items. The gold pack is the most expensive of the tiered packs and gives you 2 permanent unlocks (if available) in addition to a lot of rares and possible legendaries. There have been other packs released since launch including a limited edition Halo Championship series pack, so pay attention to HTPHalo for more information regarding these. 343 Industries recently added multi-gold packs that are available for purchase with actual cash. These multi-gold packs allow you to essentially buy gold packs at $3.00 a piece and give you a few free packs the more you buy. Since gold packs cost more than silver packs, and both are guaranteed to give you 2 permanent unlocks (if available), it is a good idea to open Silver packs when you first start off the game. The current ideal number of silver packs to obtain before switching to Gold is somewhere in the range of 400-500, but we recommend switching somewhere around the 50-60% customization (REQ Collection) complete range.


There are many weapons in the Halo 5: Guardians sandbox and each one serves a specific purpose. This part of the guide will cover the starting weapons but for more in-depth information on all the weapons please see our weapon guide here.

Starting Weapons

  • Magnum – The Magnum is once again the staple gun of the franchise, bringing the game back to its Halo:CE roots. While the Magnum is very much a utility weapon and does a fantastic job of being a good multi-situation gun, it is often outshined at a distance by the BR/DMR and up close by the SMG/Storm Rifle. It is very important to learn how to use the Magnum esepecially if you are going to be playing Arena, as it and the Assault Rifle are your starting weapons for all playlists except for Big Team Battle (BTB). The auto-aim in Halo 5: Guardians is quite low so aiming the Magnum may take some practice, but once you master the gun it will be worth your while.
  • Assault Rifle (AR) – The Assault Rifle, similar to the Magnum, is back to its former glory and is finally an insanely useful weapon. While its accuracy tapers off quite quickly, its sweet spot is somewhere in the range of 5-15 feet. Do not be afraid to use the AR as it makes an excellent backup to the Magnum. Aiming Down Sights (ADS) seems to make the AR more accurate so make sure to ADS when your opponent’s shields have popped to give yourself a better chance at landing the headshot.
  • Battle Rifle (BR)  – The Battle Rifle makes its glorious return as a starting weapon in both big team and as an unlockable starting weapon in Warzone. The Battle Rifle is a great utility weapon that serves you well at most distances similar to the Magnum, but has a much better effective range and will usually beat a Magnum from any distance greater than 20 feet.


Check back later for information on Vehicles.

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